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I generally believe most people mean well, and simply execute their job poorly every now and then. But, sometimes there are BAD bosses. Do you know what to do when you have a bad boss?


This post is intended to address the most common issues with a bad boss and the steps you can take to reduce the impact on you—both personally and professionally. The problems we face when we have a bad boss are almost too numerous to mention, but the two biggest of these issues are:

  1. They can negatively impact our work performance.
  2. They can make life miserable.

These two issues alone make it worth trying to figure out how to work more effectively with our boss, even when they are bad. There is a catch-all term we use regarding bosses and co-workers called "being difficult." It's not too specific to exactly know what the issue is. Sometimes, when we are in the midst of a constant barrage from the bad boss, it's hard to know exactly where the difficulty may lie. All we know is it's difficult to work successfully with this person.

Here are some suggestions that might help reduce the level of difficulty you have when working with your bad boss:

1. Look To Your Own Performance First

Man stressed about his bad boss

You might think your boss is being difficult because they are demanding a different level of output from you. Make sure you are clear on what they expect from you.

2. Realize You May Have Opposing Styles

Woman talks to her bad boss at work

You might be expecting something from your boss that they simply can't do. You might think they are unfriendly simply because they fail to say "Good morning." To them, that might simply be a waste of time. Examine your own expectations of what you think they should be doing. They may not be very outgoing or simply operate differently than what you're used to. Reset your expectations.

Don't know your workplace communication style? Take this quiz!

3. Learn The Boss

Women listens to her bad boss during a meeting

Spend some time really observing your boss to see what it is they do that is impacting you. In the process, you might learn that they are getting leaned on by their boss and it's creating extra stress. You could discover they aren't a morning person, meaning you should delay important interactions until after lunch. Figure out their rhythms and modify your own.

4. Don't Shrink

Man responds to his bad boss

All too often, when we don't like someone, we go out of your way to avoid them. While I think this tactic can work to keep you under the radar, wait to do that until you clearly have exhausted all of your options. You may also find that more, not less, communication can help you with this type of person. Shrinking away into a dark corner won't help you.

5. Become Indispensable

Woman happy after talking to her boss

If you've attempted to learn more about your boss, take it to the next level and become an indispensable employee. Focus on using your problem-solving skills and offer your boss additional help and support. This will help them shine to their own boss and also reduce reasons for finding fault with you. You can become the "go-to" person that they respect and depend on.

6. Let It Roll Off Of You

Woman talks to her bad boss

We will spend a lifetime running into people that are demanding, critical, and downright volatile. You need to learn the skill of blowing most of it off. Certainly, there will be some of it that will still bother you, but most of the time you can't let it affect you. I'm not suggesting ignoring your boss's needs or demands; I'm saying to not let their method of delivery be what grabs your attention or reaction. I have found that even the most difficult of bosses can be tamed or at least subdued.

I once worked for a guy who had even the most senior, sage people in tears. When I started working directly for him, I noticed he was quick to engage in verbal battle. If you stood up for yourself, he backed down. I soon figured out that he tested people. If they backed down, he was relentless. When I told him my observation, he laughed and told me I was the only person who had figured it out. He felt that if you were right about something, you would defend it and if you didn't defend it, he couldn't respect you. It was that simple. It was who he was—good or bad, but we always worked well together—and that's the most important part.


If you're dealing with a bad boss, be sure to follow these six tips. When you feel like quitting, just remember you can turn a bad situation around, but it does take work.


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This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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